Paul Rousso, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina was born in 1958. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio before being sidelined by a too-close encounter with a power saw. Rousso’s period of convalescence turned into a months-long stint in New York City, where he found work as a member of an interior design team drawing plans for the home of Robert De Niro. After completing his B.F.A. in 1981 at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, Rousso was hired by Warner Brothers as a scenic painter for films. He went on to serve as an art director and illustrator for Revlon, Clairol, Condé Nast, and Bloomingdale’s before becoming a fulltime artist.
Artworks and technique
With influences ranging from Dr. Seuss to Roy Lichtenstein, Rousso casts his pop art sensibilities on a 21st century scale. Advances in technology have enabled him to delve into the heat-tempered sculpting of the world’s ephemera in surprising ways. Through exaggerations of size, Rousso places such familiar items as a crumpled-up ten-dollar bill or a bubble gum wrapper on the same relative plane as the viewer. Intricately detailed renderings at such outsized dimensions as four to five feet in size force the viewer into the role of studied observer. It is in this way that Rousso’s art speaks to the conversion of physical objects and the effect of that transformation on the viewer. Again, “all this stuff is going away,” and Rousso wants you to take a good long look.
From his “painting with paper” collages to his latest creations of wildly outsized and convoluted sculptures of money and candy wrappers, Paul Rousso has sought to flatten the dimensional and elevate the flattened: “There are many shades from one end of the spectrum to the other, but everything has an opposite. My work is about finding what comes next.” For Rousso, a good deal of what’s next involves a process of crumpling, folding, tearing, gluing, and re-composing – turning the printed pages of a single Vogue magazine into a sculpted wall hanging, for example, or transforming every printed note of every Beatles’ song into a massive jumble of texture on canvas.
The ink and paper era is drawing to a close. “All this stuff,” as artist Paul Rousso puts it, “is going away.” That “stuff” is no less than the paper-based underpinnings of modern civilization. Texts, images, sheet music, currency – the paper document is being displaced by its transformation into so many bits of binary code, digitized for the screen and everyplace at once. Yet paper documents are themselves an expression of something else entirely. An artist sketches a two dimensional impression of a flower; a novelist commits an imagined conversation to paper – meaning is imbued within a separate medium, altered yet understood.
Welcome to my place in the massive experience of art. I create in the collective mind of art, where the 3-D illusion of space and the 2-D object become one. During my formation as an artist, I conceived the concept “Flat Depth,” a realm where the future beckons to surpass the insistence on the universal flattening of art. I have gone to great lengths to maximize the archival possibilities of ephemera - the printed word and page - a dominion we are about to leave behind forever. I was fortuitously born into the century of Pop Art and respect the form for its trenchant commentary on our human situation, and now shepherd the path to advance the universal artistic conversation by bending dimension. As my work anticipates the ceaseless evolution of art, and embraces the history thereof, from the Bible to a 3-D illusion of space, I savor the possibilities of greater abstraction, where a symphonic concept of three-dimensional paint, of deep depth, and undulation awaits. I express myself across numerous mediums, and joyfully embrace history and fire, technology and color, and our impending ability and outright need to conceive in new dimensions, to bring the future of art to life.
Paul Rousso Charlotte, North Carolina November 28, 2018
2020 - Solo exhibition 'Flat Depth', SmithDavidson Gallery Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2019 - EXPO Chicago, SmithDavidson Gallery, Chicago, USA
2019 - Art New York, SmithDavidson Gallery, Miami, USA
2018 'East meets West', SmithDavidson Gallery, Okt - Dec, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2018 - Art New York, USA
2018 - Art Palm Beach, USA
2017 - Art Miami, USA
2017 - PAN Amsterdam, the Netherlands
2017 - Modern Masters, SmithDavidson Gallery, Miami, USA
2017 - Times Suspended II, SmithDavidson Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Born in Charlotte in 1958